“But the warriors, a-and it was the active season-!” He began, but cowered in front of her once more and bowed back down in fright. “Please forgive me, Saintess!” He begged her.
She had been trying to catch every word he tried to tell her as she felt her heart pound against her chest in nervousness before he cut himself off and begged for forgiveness. She took note of how this stemmed from his past experiences with Jin.
It seemed, even among the servants of Mara, she was feared. And she definitely did not like excuses.
“I merely feared for your safety, Saintess,” he finally said, “Truly, it is a relief to see you well. I shall be sure not to cause you any more trouble, for whatever reason there will be.”
Eugene gave him a calculating gaze before she finally stepped back.
“Our meeting will be short today.” Though she wanted to extract more information from him, she knew she wouldn’t be able to get any more. He was still a priest of the heretic church. No means of threats or torture would be able to get him to spill their secrets.
In fact, he would even be hailed a martyr for his heroic efforts.
She mustn’t get hasty about this. She didn’t know what position and how much influence he actually held in the heretic church, nor how involved Jin actually was with their activities.
She also needed additional time to sort out the facts she had just learned. Her mind was a mess. Any more information and she might just end up giving herself away.
“Return for now, and wait patiently for my instructions.” She reminded him as he nodded in acquiescence to her command.
“Of course Saintess, however…” He trailed off, raising his head, studying his mistress for a moment before continuing as he tried to gauge how she would react. “With regards to Tanya, if you will, I can send a replacement soon, with your permission of course.” He added hastily. “Just like last time.”
“Last time?” She whispered to herself.
She had a rough idea of what happened and who ‘Tanya’ was. He might’ve sent her before, posing as a court lady, but for some reason, she was no longer in the palace.
She was also curious as to how Rodrigo operated, and how he was able to smuggle people into the employment of the palace. She knew the general. It would be a feat to even be able to get past her what with her meticulous security and a half-baked plan.
If there’s a breach in security, I must find it. She was the head of the household now; she couldn’t just let this be.
She soon nodded, and he bowed to her once more.
“Excellent decision Saintess,” he said, “God bless you, Saintess. This Mara’s servant gives his final greetings before he leaves.” Once he was done, he finally got up to his feet, before he turned back to look at the other two occupants in the room, as his eyes turned red.
“I’ve rushed to see the queen today, for I’ve finally located the whereabouts of the ancient book she has been looking for. As a black market item, a deposit was needed to reserve such an item, so I came to seek permission to use the money I have been given.” He finished, and the red glow disappeared from his eyes.
As he clapped his hands twice, the dull look disappeared from both Marianne and Zanne when they blinked, and Rodrigo faced her once more.
“It was a pleasure doing business with you, my queen. Until the next time.” He bid her adieu, and finally took his leave.
As soon as he was gone, Eugene immediately felt all the tension leave her body. She was exhausted, her body was strained enough to be fatigued from all the excitement of today. She didn’t even have enough energy to check whether or not Rodrigo’s hypnotism worked properly on her two companions.
She couldn’t even find in herself the strength to check whether or not they truly had no clue as to what happened, saw or heard anything during the whole time. She only stood up, and began to pace, opening the door…
“Marianne, I wish to be alone,” she said.
Marianne paused as she hesitated before nodding.
“As you wish, Your Grace.”
“You too, Zanne.” Eugene told the maid.
The other curtsied and followed Marianne. Because of her lack of awareness of her surroundings, she completely missed the worried look Marianne threw her way on their way out.
As soon as they were gone, she entered the space of her bedroom once more and slid to the floor, her knees pressed against her chest as she buried her face in her hands, before pulling away. She stared at her hands, watched the way it trembled sporadically.
She suddenly felt hopeless.
To be honest, it had been a while since she was acquainted with the feeling. She even tried to avoid it at times, even when it was there, lingering at the back of her mind. It didn’t matter how long she wondered about the nature of this place, the purpose of why she had ended up in this world, or whether or not all of this was just a passing fancy…
No one would be able to give her an answer, or a way to know how it would all end.
That was why every time she woke up in the morning, she’d only think about the current day and wonder how she’d spend it. It was her way of adapting to the new world around her.
It still felt like she’s drunk on the moment, enjoying the sweetness it filled her with.
Comparing her life now in Mahar, to the one she had before felt a lot like comparing Heaven and Hell. Everything was multiplied in too-many-folds: the abundance, the friendliness, the rewards.
She’d been thrown into the life of Jin, with no preparations or even trials, taking over her role as the queen of three years. Had things kept going uninterrupted, she would’ve thought it was all too easy. In fact, she’d already begun to think so. People would’ve eventually forgotten the malicious queen, and brushed it under the rug, never to speak of that Jin again.
Was this a punishment for the arrogance she had assumed?
Her mind was a mess, every known fact of her story only left her more confused with every answer she got. The anxiousness was overwhelming, but she couldn’t even figure out what was causing it.
She hugged her knees, burying her face in them as she continued to think. She had lost track of how long she had been in that position, but soon the facts were sorted out in her mind.
It was still correct for me to assume that the concept and the world I wrote are the same.
The characters were the same, their ranks, the places, the era. Even the setting and how she imagined it was the same. Just like in her novel. But that’s where the similarities ended.
It’s not my fault. I mean they are so similar it’s understandable for me to mistake them.
She closed her eyes, taking deep breaths, as she raised her head to calm herself down.
She had no one to turn to, no one could help her if she were to make herself even more confused and run around for answers like a headless chicken. And so, there remained only one unchangeable fact as was the case in her previous life.
Only she could help herself, no one else.
This isn’t just a story. It’s now my reality. She told herself, Even I don’t know what’ll happen now.
Worlds created inside novels had the ability to maximize the reader’s imaginations. That was why people could come up with outrageous things that would be seemingly impossible in real sense.
However, Eugene was of a different opinion on the matter.
Well, novels only exist as a means to escape, for people to establish their own set of rules of what’s right and what’s wrong. Therefore, in novels, one is in control.
There is no clear sense of an absolute rule—everything is vague, and one would struggle and find means to survive.
And that made it so much worse than living in a novel.